They are back in school and here comes the avalanche of papers! School kids generate a lot of paper. From the first time they bring home that fist-full of drawings from pre-school until they leave for college, the paper chase is on. School papers, homework, magazines, photos, report cards, memorabilia and so much more can accumulate and add to the clutter in their bedrooms and other areas of the home.
Since there are more important issues to address with children, than their collection of papers, let’s use the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple silly) concept and make life easier for parent and child. Simple is best and more likely to continue. Here are a few simple tips to get you started and to set up some good habits as the papers and the kids grow.
1. The first step is to respect the child’s property. One parents’ trash is a child’s treasure, so before discarding anything, check with your child…it may be “irreplaceable”…at least for now. Also kids will frequently borrow “stuff” (books, etc.) from their friends or classroom, and it may just need to be returned. That’s an easy one.
2. The old adage: “a place for everything and everything in its place” may be the key to returning items to their proper home (place). If there is no designated home for the item it is homeless or ends up in stacks and piles on furniture and floor. Wall shelves and book cases are a natural home for not only books, but photo albums, framed photos, rock collections and other “clutter” oops!…treasures! Decorative boxes, plastic bins or baskets are neat receptacles for papers and other savers and good homes also.
Clear plastic boxes (on shelves) are easy to identify contents and user friendly. Bookends, of their favorite sports figures, animals, cartoon characters or even large rocks, will help keep the shelves orderly. All of these ideas help to find homes for their stuff.
3. Next…get each child a file cabinet. If you, as a parent, took one suggestion to heart it would be to acquire a file cabinet for each child’s room. If you buy the sturdiest one you can afford it will serve to keep their papers organized from preschool right through college. Check with office supply stores for used file cabinets. Provide hanging file holders, colored file folders, labels and color-coding stickers to help them set up a system of simple filing for easy retrieval. Divide the categories according to their classes or projects…math, science, art, awards, certificates, essays, etc. When the school year ends they can learn to purge their files to make room for next year’s paper collection. Simply change the categories as necessary when the new school year begins. If they are not willing to use the file category system, just have them add the papers to the cabinet to locate or purge later. See #4 to deal with the papers purged from the files.
4. Keep the fewer “really special” papers and projects in a storage box under the bed or at the top of a closet. This will be a more permanent home until it is decided it isn’t needed or will be saved…“forever.” Again, plastic bins make it easy to locate contents.
5. Use photo albums and turn them into photo-scrapbooks, to save
special photos, invitations to events, commendations, newsletters, etc. for posterity. Just hole punch the papers to fit the book. Be sure to provide an acid-free environment (no PVC) in these books so photos and papers will last a very long time. Or maybe they just want their photos, etc. scanned into their computer. Whatever works to eliminate excess clutter on the floor and table tops.
6. A bulletin board is good place to display papers on a temporary basis. Just be sure the items pinned there are rotated regularly so it doesn’t become a “graveyard” of old memories or worse yet…reminders.
Start the paper organizing routine at any age to encourage children to keep their papers organized and archived. It will make life easier for you as a parent and, they will be grateful one day when they are parents organizing their homes and their children’s paperwork.
© Ann Gambrell September 2013